"Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

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One Ping
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by One Ping » Wed May 15, 2019 6:33 pm

ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 6:26 pm
One Ping wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 6:19 pm
Just tried to use the calculator and it doesn't seem to be working. Input data, click submit, the screen flashes for an instant, but then no results.

Using Firefox Quantum Ver. 66.0.5 (64-bit). It says it is 'up to date.'
Hmm. Thanks for the notification. I was working on it today (just a few small things -- updating it to use the new SSA mortality table for instance), so apparently something has gone wrong there.

I've tried using it on all my various devices though, and it's working fine for me, including on Firefox.

Are you getting the same no-result outcome regardless of what inputs you use? (Trying to figure out here whether it's a function of the browser/OS combination, or a function of the inputs being used.)
No. Here is the scenario data (same as earlier.)

Your Information:
Marital Status: Married
Gender: Male
Birthdate: 11/15/1951
Have you already filed for retirement benefits?: No.
PIA: $2,500

Your Spouse’s Information:
Gender: Female
Birthdate: 11/15/1945
PIA: $500
Has your spouse already filed for retirement benefits?: Yes
Month and year in which your spouse filed for his/her retirement benefit: 11/2011

If I change it to this:

Your Information:
Marital Status: Married
Gender: Male
Birthdate: 11/15/1951
Have you already filed for retirement benefits?: No.
PIA: $2,500

Your Spouse’s Information:
Gender: Female
Birthdate: 11/15/1951
PIA: $500
Has your spouse already filed for retirement benefits?: Yes
Month and year in which your spouse filed for his/her retirement benefit: 11/2017

It seems to work ...
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JBTX
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by JBTX » Wed May 15, 2019 7:05 pm

ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:55 am
Update: I just rolled out functionality for child benefits and child-in-care spousal benefits.

That's about 9 months of nearly full-time work on this project (~30 hours spent on it per week since April), and the calculator now does all of the major things that I had hoped for it to do. So I think I'll be taking a break for a bit, aside from maybe some small stuff here and there.
Would that include getting SSDI disability for an adult child born with a disability?

I would assume it would ignore SSI eligibility until at which point SSDI is available. Seems that would be hard to model, but a very realistic possibility.

I'll check it out!

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Wed May 15, 2019 7:48 pm

Thanks, One Ping. Nothing is immediately coming to mind (as far as how any of the changes I made today would cause the result you're seeing), so I'll need to spend more time digging into it tomorrow.
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Wed May 15, 2019 7:49 pm

JBTX wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 7:05 pm
ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:55 am
Update: I just rolled out functionality for child benefits and child-in-care spousal benefits.

That's about 9 months of nearly full-time work on this project (~30 hours spent on it per week since April), and the calculator now does all of the major things that I had hoped for it to do. So I think I'll be taking a break for a bit, aside from maybe some small stuff here and there.
Would that include getting SSDI disability for an adult child born with a disability?

I would assume it would ignore SSI eligibility until at which point SSDI is available. Seems that would be hard to model, but a very realistic possibility.
Yes.

And, the calculator does not account for SSI benefits at all.
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Wed May 15, 2019 8:12 pm

ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 7:48 pm
Thanks, One Ping. Nothing is immediately coming to mind (as far as how any of the changes I made today would cause the result you're seeing), so I'll need to spend more time digging into it tomorrow.
Never mind this. I figured it out. (Forgot that I can't use the mortality tables as-is. Rather, I have to add a bunch of zeros to the end, so that the calculator can run fully for scenarios where one spouse is significantly older than the other.)

It should be working now.

Thanks again for bringing the problem to my attention -- and for providing the necessary information to fix it.
Last edited by ObliviousInvestor on Wed May 15, 2019 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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One Ping
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by One Ping » Wed May 15, 2019 8:21 pm

:thumbsup :thumbsup :thumbsup :thumbsup
Thanks, Mike. Back up and running ... :D

(I won't tell the wife you think she is 'significantly' older ... :wink: )
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by Raydo » Thu May 16, 2019 12:57 pm

Maybe someone has mentioned this.

I use maximize my social security to double check the result.

There are different amount between two calculator for the amount received for my first year after reaching 70.

My DOB is 7-16-1956, PIA 2880.

Open calculator gives 6 months but maximize my social security gives me 5 months.

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Thu May 16, 2019 1:01 pm

Raydo wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 12:57 pm
Maybe someone has mentioned this.

I use maximize my social security to double check the result.

There are different amount between two calculator for the amount received for my first year after reaching 70.

My DOB is 7-16-1956, PIA 2880.

Open calculator gives 6 months but maximize my social security gives me 5 months.
Can't speak to other calculators, but if your birthday is 7/16 and you plan to wait until your benefit maxes out, July would be the first month for which you would receive benefits. So you would receive benefits for 6 months in the year in question.

Of note, OSS follows the convention that the SSA generally uses (and which most people use in discussing Social Security in general) of discussing months for which you receive a benefit, rather than months in which you receive a benefit. (For example July's benefit would be paid in August. Other calculators may be referring to months in which you receive the benefit.)
Mike Piper, author/blogger

standard7
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by standard7 » Mon May 27, 2019 12:32 pm

Does anyone include the following into their calculation from the advanced features -
Assume that Social Security benefits will be cut in the future - the 2018 Social Security trustees report estimates that if no legislative changes are made, benefits will have to be cut by 23% as of 2034.
It has such a dramatic effect on the outcome, I'm wondering what others are doing? adding a small percentage, using it as-is, or concluding that since there are so many other variables that may come into play not to touch it until it becomes a fact?

btw - great calculator! many thanks

My favorite feature is that it is patient and will wait until I figure out what I did wrong :)

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by palaheel » Mon May 27, 2019 1:03 pm

standard7 wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 12:32 pm

It has such a dramatic effect on the outcome,
Yes, even a very small reduction has a dramatic effect. For us with a 4% reduction, we should both apply when DW can take the full spousal benefit. That's 18 months earlier than the no reduction scenario.

And it is a wonderful tool. Thanks very much.
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by JoeRetire » Mon May 27, 2019 1:10 pm

standard7 wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 12:32 pm
Does anyone include the following into their calculation from the advanced features -
Assume that Social Security benefits will be cut in the future - the 2018 Social Security trustees report estimates that if no legislative changes are made, benefits will have to be cut by 23% as of 2034.
It has such a dramatic effect on the outcome, I'm wondering what others are doing? adding a small percentage, using it as-is, or concluding that since there are so many other variables that may come into play not to touch it until it becomes a fact?
If you use the "Advanced features" option, it will allow you to change the default selection of "Assume that Social Security benefits will be cut in the future?" from No to Yes. Once you select Yes, you'll be able to enter the Year and the Percent of reduction you are modelling.

Run it with that assumption and without to see the difference in optimization strategies, if any.
Don't be a lemming.

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by standard7 » Mon May 27, 2019 2:13 pm

Hi JoeRetire

>Run it with that assumption and without to see the >difference in optimization strategies, if any.

I have and it is a significant difference. The value of the proposed solution drops to 60% of the estimate if I include the 23% benefit reduction. And the suggested age for my filing changes from 70 to my FRA at 66y8m.

Since this can create a significant difference I’m wondering how other people are approaching the potential that there may be a cut in benefits. Or, as I mentioned is it usually ignored since there are so many other things that could occur?

It seems that the generally accepted advice of hold out as long as possible to file for benefits requires a belief that todays low interest rates will remain in effect and the assumption that the SSA won't run out of resources.

Thanks

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by JoeRetire » Mon May 27, 2019 4:37 pm

standard7 wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 2:13 pm
>Run it with that assumption and without to see the >difference in optimization strategies, if any.

I have and it is a significant difference. The value of the proposed solution drops to 60% of the estimate if I include the 23% benefit reduction.
Okay.
And the suggested age for my filing changes from 70 to my FRA at 66y8m.
Interesting.
Since this can create a significant difference I’m wondering how other people are approaching the potential that there may be a cut in benefits. Or, as I mentioned is it usually ignored since there are so many other things that could occur?
I ignore potential cuts in benefits because I don't think it will actually happen. I don't think the political realities allow it.
It seems that the generally accepted advice of hold out as long as possible to file for benefits requires a belief that todays low interest rates will remain in effect and the assumption that the SSA won't run out of resources.
The SSA cannot run out of resources.

If interest rates get very high, many of us may change our SS claiming strategy. I don't see that on the horizon.
Don't be a lemming.

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siamond
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by siamond » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:05 am

I finally (yeah, I know, just about time!) gave it a good try with Mike's calculator. I was a little disappointed to not find a PIA calculator included, but ok, I now understand that this wasn't the goal. This tool is more a 'SS strategizer' than a SS calculator, in truth. As a side note, this PIA calculator is really terrific, so much better than the ssa.gov tools.

Overall, great work, I think Mike P. found an excellent balance between providing something meaningful and broadly applicable while staying usable and understandable.

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by LadyGeek » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:07 am

The PIA calculator referenced by siamond, as well as ObliviousInvestor's tool, are in the wiki: Social Security: member contributions

The PIA calculator discussion thread is here: SocialSecurity.tools updated to include spousal benefits
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Helot
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by Helot » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:35 pm

Greetings. Thank you for the calculator! I may have stumbled upon a glitch.

I’m confused about the results provided by the calculator.

Married
Male (ME)
04/1971
PIA: $271 (This is my PIA after calculating for the WEP due to pension on the SS site).

Spouse
Female
07/1971
PIA: $2929

Here are the results:

Strategy
You file for your retirement benefit to begin 11/2033, at age 62 and 7 months.
Your spouse files for his/her retirement benefit to begin 4/2041, at age 69 and 9 months.
You file for your spousal benefit to begin 4/2041, at age 70 and 0 months.

Results
2033 $395 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $395
2034 $2,371 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $2,371

Question
Why does my annual retirement benefit increase from $395 to $2371? Hope it’s not a glitch, but suspect it is. :(

Thank you!

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by Silk McCue » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:39 pm

Helot wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:35 pm

Results
2033 $395 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $395
2034 $2,371 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $2,371

Question
Why does my annual retirement benefit increase from $395 to $2371? Hope it’s not a glitch, but suspect it is. :(

Thank you!
$2371/12= $197.58
$197.58 * 2 months (Nov and Dec) is $395.

No glitch, just two months of benefits that first year.

Cheers

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:40 pm

Helot, the calculator is showing that for 2033 you would receive 2 months of retirement benefits (Nov, Dec), and for 2034 you would receive 12 months of retirement benefits.

Edit: Nice job Silk McCue. :)
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Helot
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by Helot » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:03 pm

Silk McCue wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:39 pm

$2371/12= $197.58
$197.58 * 2 months (Nov and Dec) is $395.

No glitch, just two months of benefits that first year.

Cheers
:oops: Yes. Exactly. Thank you. My uncaffeinated brain insisted on viewing the amount as the yearly amount, as opposed to the monthly amount ...

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by David Jay » Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:36 pm

Mike:

Can you take a look at this, a couple who don’t qualify are being told to do a restricted application here: viewtopic.php?p=4656611#p4656611



Never mind, problem solved (operator error)
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by RobertAlanK » Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:09 am

I have planned to file for Social Security benefits in December 2019, one year before my full retirement age. This is to provide benefits for my 12-year-old daughter and my wife who is the primary caregiver. I also plan to continue to work full-time in 2020.

When I run the Open Social Security calculator it results in a reduction in my family benefits between 45-50% as my income in 2020 will be over the earnings test annual limit. However when I contacted the SSA office I was told that I would have 9 months of family benefits withheld (75%). I've researched it quite a bit but cannot find any explanation for the significant discrepancy between the calculator output and the SSA information. Any ideas?

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:22 am

RobertAlanK wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:09 am
I have planned to file for Social Security benefits in December 2019, one year before my full retirement age. This is to provide benefits for my 12-year-old daughter and my wife who is the primary caregiver. I also plan to continue to work full-time in 2020.

When I run the Open Social Security calculator it results in a reduction in my family benefits between 45-50% as my income in 2020 will be over the earnings test annual limit. However when I contacted the SSA office I was told that I would have 9 months of family benefits withheld (75%). I've researched it quite a bit but cannot find any explanation for the significant discrepancy between the calculator output and the SSA information. Any ideas?
I would need more information in order to be able to explain the Open Social Security calculations. At a minimum we'd need to know months of birth, PIAs, and your anticipated 2020 earnings level. Seeing the Open Social Security output table would help also.
Mike Piper, author/blogger

RobertAlanK
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by RobertAlanK » Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:41 am

ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:22 am
RobertAlanK wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:09 am
I have planned to file for Social Security benefits in December 2019, one year before my full retirement age. This is to provide benefits for my 12-year-old daughter and my wife who is the primary caregiver. I also plan to continue to work full-time in 2020.

When I run the Open Social Security calculator it results in a reduction in my family benefits between 45-50% as my income in 2020 will be over the earnings test annual limit. However when I contacted the SSA office I was told that I would have 9 months of family benefits withheld (75%). I've researched it quite a bit but cannot find any explanation for the significant discrepancy between the calculator output and the SSA information. Any ideas?
I would need more information in order to be able to explain the Open Social Security calculations. At a minimum we'd need to know months of birth, PIAs, and your anticipated 2020 earnings level. Seeing the Open Social Security output table would help also.
Here you go. Let me know if I've missed anything. Cheers, Rob
  • Reach FRA at age 66 in December 2020; daughter born Jan 2007
    PIA: $2,260 at FRA (Child & Spousal Child-in-Care $847 each) per AnyPIA
    2020 Est. Income: $9,762 per month (spouse $1,450 per month)

    Calculator results (file Dec 2019, age 65)
    2020: My benefit $15,418; Child/Spousal $ 5,086 each
    2021: My benefit $26,367; Child/Spousal $10,172 each

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:58 am

Lots going on with this one.

The family maximum based on your primary insurance amount is $3,955.40. From that we subtract your PIA to get the amount left for the rest of the family: $1,695.40. (Hence the $847 figure per anyPIA.)

The calculator is using the 2019 earnings test threshold ($46,920) for 2020 because we don't have the 2020 figure yet. This tells us that your excess earnings for 2020 is $60,462. We divide that by 3 to arrive at a necessary withholding of $20,154 for 2020.

Your initial retirement benefit is $2,109.33 per month. To that we add the $1,695.40 that the auxiliary beneficiaries are receiving, to get a total of $3,804.73 available for withholding per month.

So 6 months get withheld in 2020 ($22,828.40). That's an overwithholding of $2,674.40.

You then get 5 months of $2,109.33. And at your FRA the "adjustment reduction factor" kicks in to adjust your benefit for the seven months that were withheld (Dec 2019 and Jan-June 2020). So your monthly retirement benefit becomes $2,197.22.

So your total 2020 benefit is 5 x $2,109.33 + $2,197.22 + $2,674.40 = $15,418. And each of the auxiliary beneficiaries gets $847.7 x 6 = $5,086.

Then in 2021 there is no withholding. So you get 12 x $2,197.22 = $26,367. And each auxiliary beneficiary gets $847.7 x 12 = $10,172.

Of note, Open Social Security just rounds the annual figure at the very end, whereas in real life monthly benefit amounts are rounded down.

Also, please be patient with me this week, as I'm typing/mousing with just my left hand due to a hand surgery. Typing the above took me about twice as long as doing the math. :|
Mike Piper, author/blogger

RobertAlanK
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by RobertAlanK » Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:37 pm

That is brilliant! Very helpful. Thank you for taking the time and effort to respond and for all that you do for people with the calculator and Social Security Made Simple which I consult on my Kindle.

One quick follow-up question. When or how does Social Security pay the $2,674.40 overwithheld amount? Is it spread across monthly benefit payments for the remainder of the year, or is it also part of the calculation to adjust my benefit at FRA? No hurry to answer. I wish you a speedy recovery from the surgery.

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:02 pm

Earnings test withholding is always based on an estimate of your earnings for the year.

Then, for any year that included months prior to your FRA, after the year is over and the SSA has received your W-2 from your employer (or your Schedule SE if you're self-employed) -- and they therefore know what your actual earnings were for the year -- you settle up with the SSA. If too much was withheld, the overwithholding will be added to your next check. If too little was withheld your next check will be smaller than usual.

Also, in real life the paying back of the overwithholding would be spread among the family (50% to you, 25% to each of the auxiliary beneficiaries) whereas Open Social Security just shows it being added to your benefit amount.
Mike Piper, author/blogger

RobertAlanK
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by RobertAlanK » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:51 pm

Got it! Thanks again, Mike.

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by dollarsaver » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:09 pm

Hi,
Used this wonderful calculator for the second time today. I'm taking my SS in 11/19 at age 68.5 and my wife will file for spousal in 11/19 at age 66. She was born before 1/54. The numbers show that both of us will receive 2 payments in 2019. We will only receive one payment for Dec 2019.
So all the numbers are off by one month,
Filing for benefits in Nov 19, but first check is Dec 19, so calculator should should just show one payment, not two for 2019.

Thanks

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by Big Dog » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:32 pm

little confused about your post, dollar, but don't forget that benefits are paid by SS in arrears. So, for example, if you make your earn your FRA in November, the benefit won't be paid until December.

If you both file for benefits in November, you should receive two checks in December, your regular SS benefits and her spousal.

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:48 pm

dollarsaver, the calculator follows the convention of discussing months for which a benefit is received rather than months in which the benefit is received. I took this approach in the interest of making the output easier to understand given that this is how most sources (including the SSA in most cases) talk about benefits. But you are of course correct that on a cash flow basis there would be one month of lag (as also noted by Big Dog).
Mike Piper, author/blogger

dollarsaver
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by dollarsaver » Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:24 pm

ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:48 pm
dollarsaver, the calculator follows the convention of discussing months for which a benefit is received rather than months in which the benefit is received. I took this approach in the interest of making the output easier to understand given that this is how most sources (including the SSA in most cases) talk about benefits. But you are of course correct that on a cash flow basis there would be one month of lag (as also noted by Big Dog).


Thanks Mike.

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by Carl53 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:42 am

We recently filed for SS. My spouse for reduced early benefits and myself filing for restricted spousal. Data entered in OpenSS and got expected results. We received benefits the next month as expected. Today, I tried entering data into the calculator with my spouses data entered first, stating that claiming has already occurred in the month that we filed. Entered my data second as spouse, but needed to tell it that I had not yet filed. OpenSS says for me to go back and file retroactively a restricted spousal application and then for us to file at my age 70, as expected, for my benefits and my spouse to take spousal benefit. All expected and matches direction provided when the data was entered with my information first. What was not expected was the much larger PW value. Looking at the table of annual results, my spouses results, this time with what it previously calculated when my data was entered first were the same through out the entire table. What surprised me was that the table seems to contradict what it told me to do, (filing retroactively for spousal - already done, and our both refiling at my age 70). The table with my spouse being the first person for which data was entered, had me receiving about four months of spousal benefits this year, and none for the next three+ years. Furthermore it shows my DRC benefit being 22% greater than 132% of the PIA entered.

I've looked at all of the data entered and do not see a flaw.

Mike, PM me if you want to see more details.

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:46 am

Carl53, would you perhaps be able to email me the details? (The easiest way is likely to "print" the page and save it as a pdf attachment.)

mike@obliviousinvestor.com
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dollarsaver
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by dollarsaver » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:11 pm

Hi Mike,
Your calculator tells us to file in Nov'19 for spousal for my wife. She will be 66 in Nov. And I should file(I'm 68 1/2) for my SS in Nov also so she can collect spousal according to your calculator. My question is: I filed on the phone today with SS to start my benefit in Nov. My wife filed on-line today for spousal benefits only starting in Nov.
Do I have to do anything else? Your calculator results advised us to both file in 11/19.

Thanks so much.

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:33 pm

dollarsaver wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:11 pm
Hi Mike,
Your calculator tells us to file in Nov'19 for spousal for my wife. She will be 66 in Nov. And I should file(I'm 68 1/2) for my SS in Nov also so she can collect spousal according to your calculator. My question is: I filed on the phone today with SS to start my benefit in Nov. My wife filed on-line today for spousal benefits only starting in Nov.
Do I have to do anything else? Your calculator results advised us to both file in 11/19.

Thanks so much.
Nope, nothing else necessary at this point. Your respective benefits should begin effective November (received in December) with nothing else required of you.

Of note, when you actually get your first deposits, I would check to be sure that the amounts received match what you are expecting.
Mike Piper, author/blogger

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by dollarsaver » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:55 pm

ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:33 pm
dollarsaver wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:11 pm
Hi Mike,
Your calculator tells us to file in Nov'19 for spousal for my wife. She will be 66 in Nov. And I should file(I'm 68 1/2) for my SS in Nov also so she can collect spousal according to your calculator. My question is: I filed on the phone today with SS to start my benefit in Nov. My wife filed on-line today for spousal benefits only starting in Nov.
Do I have to do anything else? Your calculator results advised us to both file in 11/19.

Thanks so much.
Nope, nothing else necessary at this point. Your respective benefits should begin effective November (received in December) with nothing else required of you.

Of note, when you actually get your first deposits, I would check to be sure that the amounts received match what you are expecting.
Thanks so much, Mike. One last question, does the spousal benefit include the COLA's my PIA gained since I was FRA in 6/17? Will the COLA 's 'for '18 and '19 be included in my wife's 50% she will get in Nov? Thanks again.

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by vtMaps » Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:50 pm

dollarsaver wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:55 pm
One last question, does the spousal benefit include the COLA's my PIA gained since I was FRA in 6/17? Will the COLA 's 'for '18 and '19 be included in my wife's 50% she will get in Nov? Thanks again.
Not sure about the COLAS, but you should know that your first check that comes in December 2019 (for your Nov benefits) will be the same amount as if you had started in January 2019. In January 2020 you will receive your DRC (delayed retirement credits) for the first 10 months of 2019.

--vtMaps
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by Barsoom » Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:21 pm

ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:20 am
This thread is intended to serve as a place for Bogleheads to submit bug reports or make feature requests for the free/open-source "Open Social Security" calculator...
Hello, Mike.

Thank you for this tool. I really learned a lot by putting my situation into it.

I have a question about the use of the "discount rate" field. Forgive me if this is an ignorant question.

If I wanted to look at the impact of taking social security with a diversified investment portfolio, would I use this field?

For example, if I have a modeled portfolio in a tool like Portfolio Visualizer that I back-tested and Monte Carlo simulated, would I use the annualized return (e.g., CAGR, TWRR) in the discount rate field instead of the current discount rate default based on treasury bonds?

From just playing around with the discount rate field, it looks like any discount rate beyond 5% says that I should take social security at the earliest time possible. Is this because investing the social security distribution into my portfolio (if it performs better than 5% annualized return) would give me better overall returns than waiting for my social security benefit to maximize?

Is an annualized return a proper number to put into the discount rate field or is this a misuse of the field and tool?

Thanks,
-B

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by FiveK » Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:35 pm

Barsoom wrote:
Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:21 pm
I have a question about the use of the "discount rate" field.
Claiming Social Security Early to Invest It: What Rate of Return (Discount Rate) Should We Assume? — Oblivious Investor might be of interest.

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:52 pm

Thank you for linking to this.
Barsoom wrote:
Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:21 pm
I have a question about the use of the "discount rate" field. Forgive me if this is an ignorant question.

If I wanted to look at the impact of taking social security with a diversified investment portfolio, would I use this field?

For example, if I have a modeled portfolio in a tool like Portfolio Visualizer that I back-tested and Monte Carlo simulated, would I use the annualized return (e.g., CAGR, TWRR) in the discount rate field instead of the current discount rate default based on treasury bonds?

From just playing around with the discount rate field, it looks like any discount rate beyond 5% says that I should take social security at the earliest time possible. Is this because investing the social security distribution into my portfolio (if it performs better than 5% annualized return) would give me better overall returns than waiting for my social security benefit to maximize?

Is an annualized return a proper number to put into the discount rate field or is this a misuse of the field and tool?
When doing a present value calculation, the discount rate reflects the opportunity cost (i.e., what you are giving up). So yes, the idea is to choose a discount rate that reflects the real return you are giving up by waiting.

The reason TIPS are the default discount rate is because, in most cases, the bond return is what you are (or should be) giving up if you wait. That is, if you are waiting to collect Social Security, it usually makes sense to use fixed-income assets to fund the additional spending that is necessary in those waiting-to-collect years.

Said differently, the calculator is assuming that the user's portfolio is already appropriate for their risk tolerance, and if they are waiting the goal is to keep their overall economic risk level the same, by giving up (spending down) the asset that is most similar in risk profile to the asset they are buying more of (Social Security).

But yes, you can enter a higher rate of return to see what the expected outcome would be if you spend down stocks (or some combination of stocks/bonds) to delay Social Security. And yes in many cases the calculator will then tell you that filing early will result in more expected total spendable dollars over your lifetime than filing later while spending down stocks.
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by Barsoom » Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:48 pm

ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:52 pm
The reason TIPS are the default discount rate is because, in most cases, the bond return is what you are (or should be) giving up if you wait...

But yes, you can enter a higher rate of return to see what the expected outcome would be if you spend down stocks (or some combination of stocks/bonds) to delay Social Security...
Thanks, Mike, for a quick response.

I read the linked article and have another ignorant question:

Is it right to isolate (or "spend down") the bond "part of my portfolio" (for the discount rate setting) if a portfolio is rebalanced annually? Isn't one, in fact, spending from the entire portfolio and not just bonds because of rebalancing?

From my prior post, is it okay to use a value like time-weighted rate of return from other modeling tools as the discount rate, or are those two different things?

-B

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Sun Nov 17, 2019 9:39 pm

Barsoom wrote:
Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:48 pm
ObliviousInvestor wrote:
Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:52 pm
The reason TIPS are the default discount rate is because, in most cases, the bond return is what you are (or should be) giving up if you wait...

But yes, you can enter a higher rate of return to see what the expected outcome would be if you spend down stocks (or some combination of stocks/bonds) to delay Social Security...
Thanks, Mike, for a quick response.

I read the linked article and have another ignorant question:

Is it right to isolate (or "spend down") the bond "part of my portfolio" (for the discount rate setting) if a portfolio is rebalanced annually? Isn't one, in fact, spending from the entire portfolio and not just bonds because of rebalancing?

From my prior post, is it okay to use a value like time-weighted rate of return from other modeling tools as the discount rate, or are those two different things?

-B
Well, you get to choose if/how you rebalance. Ideally you are not rebalancing the assets in question. That is, ideally (in most cases) a portion of the portfolio (a part of the bond holdings) is carved out, to use for this additional pre-SS spending.

Example: Jim has $600k portfolio, 50/50 stocks/bonds. Jim's benefit at 62 would be $1,000/month. Jim decides to wait until 70. Jim would then allocate 96x$1,000 of his fixed income to a CD ladder/TIPS ladder/bond fund of some sort that is specifically set aside for the additional pre-SS spending. The rest of the portfolio is unchanged. That is, we do not try to keep a 50/50 allocation for the rest of the portfolio; we keep its now-roughly-60% stock allocation

You might find this paper to be of interest:
http://longevity.stanford.edu/wp-conten ... -final.pdf

As far as the rate of return to use, yes, time-weighted rate of return makes sense here. (And again I would suggest using bonds as the default, because that is, in a very literal sense, what would be spent down to the extent possible. But it can be informative to use other discount rates as well, to see how it affects the analysis.)
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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by Barsoom » Mon Nov 18, 2019 12:35 pm

Thanks. I understand now.

-B

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by h8(N)++ » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:53 pm

I may have stumbled on a bug for the present value calculation, that I only see when I ask for a married calculation and select the option of benefits being cut (by 23% in 2034).

When I toggle the benefits cut as a single individual (PIA 2500, birth year 1965), the present value drops about 20% (from 390000 to 311000). Reasonable.

When I toggle the benefits cut as a married couple (PIAs of 2500 and 1000, both birth years of 1965), the present value drops by about 60% (from 774000 to 308000). Not so reasonable. Also odd is that the present value reported here (308000) is less than it was for me as an individual (311000).
____________

A separate note of appreciation: looking at the output tables I realized that I had not understood how survivor benefits were calculated. Your output tables are really helpful :) Thanks for putting this tool on the web!

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:12 am

h8(N)++ wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:53 pm
I may have stumbled on a bug for the present value calculation, that I only see when I ask for a married calculation and select the option of benefits being cut (by 23% in 2034).

When I toggle the benefits cut as a single individual (PIA 2500, birth year 1965), the present value drops about 20% (from 390000 to 311000). Reasonable.

When I toggle the benefits cut as a married couple (PIAs of 2500 and 1000, both birth years of 1965), the present value drops by about 60% (from 774000 to 308000). Not so reasonable. Also odd is that the present value reported here (308000) is less than it was for me as an individual (311000).
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. The bug has been fixed. It was especially helpful that you provided information about inputs -- marital status, PIAs, DoB information. That made it much easier to diagnose the issue.

(For anybody curious, it related to something I had done to speed up the calculation time. I messed up the implementation in terms of how that code interacted with the logic for benefit cut assumptions.)
h8(N)++ wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:53 pm
A separate note of appreciation: looking at the output tables I realized that I had not understood how survivor benefits were calculated. Your output tables are really helpful :) Thanks for putting this tool on the web!
:sharebeer
Mike Piper, author/blogger

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Re: "Open Social Security" calculator: feature requests, bug reports, etc

Post by h8(N)++ » Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:01 pm

Thank you, Mike!

As the higher earner I've long assumed I'd start benefits in 2035 at age 70 - to maximize survivor benefits for my spouse - but haven't been able to get a grounded (quantitative) sense of the relative costs/benefits of my spouse starting her benefits when she turns 62, 67, or somewhere in between - with the sword of Damocles (a possible 23% benefit cut starting in 2034) hanging over our heads. I'm also subject to WEP, which adds yet another level of complexity. After checking out a few scenarios with your calculator, I have much better sense of the consequences of various claiming strategies, and will plan the rest of our finances accordingly.

Again, thank you for developing such a comprehensive open-source tool.

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